Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations
When we launched our Safe At Work Ontario strategy in 2008, we wanted to improve the health and safety culture at workplaces, reduce injuries and illnesses, and provide a level playing field for compliant employers. Inspection blitzes became the cornerstone of that strategy.
These blitzes on sector-specific hazards are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation. But along with enforcement, we believe in education – providing useful resources and working with our health and safety partners to ensure that workplaces are well-prepared to address potential hazards.
In this issue of Safe At Work Ontario TODAY, you’ll be able to read about this summer’s blitzes:
Also, you’ll find feature articles on our ministry’s Radiation Protection Services, results on our musculoskeletal disorders blitz and a new online one-stop shop to help firms working in construction or mining meet their reporting requirements.
You will also notice a new column from the Director of the ministry’s Occupational Health and Safety Branch. Renu Kulendran, who held the role for more than two years, has accepted another position in the Ontario Public Service. Wayne De L’Orme has taken on the role of acting director while recruitment is underway.
As we enter into summer, enjoy the warmer days. Environment Canada forecasts it’s going to be a warmer-than-average summer; so remember to make every effort to prevent heat stress in the workplace. You could prevent injury – even death.
Have a healthy and safe summer!
Chief Prevention Officer
We have nearly concluded our search for members of a new Prevention Council to provide advice that is timely, relevant and responsive to changing workplace conditions. Within a few weeks, Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey will likely announce the membership of the first Prevention Council.
This will go a long way to addressing Ontario’s need for a single, system-wide occupational health and safety strategy. We are building a continuum — all the way from legislation to prevention to enforcement — and back again.
We must never lose sight of the fact that even the best legislation and regulations can set only minimum standards. We must strive for much more than the minimum.
With the recent restructuring of occupational health and safety in our province, we have a once-in-a-generation chance to infuse workplace health and safety into all aspects of business, industry and commerce.
An important priority will be to establish adequate standards in the area of training and certification. In many cases there are good things that are happening that may meet — or even exceed — those standards — but where we’re not meeting those standards, we need to correct the situation promptly.
A big part of my job going forward is developing training standards to ensure that employers and workers have access to good quality training programs, particularly in high-hazard activity.
And it’s not just about working with the primary system partners, but it’s also reaching folks who, quite frankly, aren’t aware of their responsibilities for complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
That’s why we’re in the final stages of developing mandatory awareness training for workers and for supervisors, and guides for employees. And that’s why there’s a new “Prevention Starts Here” poster available for download; workplace display will be mandatory in October.
As we develop these materials, we continue to consult with industry and listen carefully to the feedback. Prevention is about developing awareness and education programs, creating awareness within all workplaces.
Prevention is about inspectors checking that workplaces are compliant, and doing it in constructive ways for the benefit of all. The Ontario Ministry of Labour believes in an open and responsive working relationship with employers and workers — and a streamlined and focused regulatory environment that welcomes business.
Unfortunately, many workers continue to be unaware of their workplace rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, we’re seeing a trend to more small workplaces and fewer large ones — requiring new approaches for us to reach employers and workers with safety messages. Everyone in the health and safety system needs to be fully engaged in delivering the prevention message to every workplace in Ontario.
By preventing injuries and creating healthier workplaces, businesses protect their most valuable asset — workers — and become more productive, and create a more prosperous Ontario.
Wayne De L’Orme
Director, Occupational Health & Safety Branch
Our targeted inspections are the foundation of our Safe At Work Ontario strategy. In the last fiscal year – up to March 31, 2012 – our ministry made more than 81,000 field visits to employers in at least 42,000 workplaces across Ontario, issuing more than 138,000 orders. We also conducted 13 blitzes during that period.
Our ministry recently released the new blitz schedule on our website. These blitzes help raise awareness of specific hazards in each sector. We are dedicated to transparent enforcement, and we pull information from a variety of sources to identify hazards and plan targeted inspections.
We want every workplace to be healthy and safe, even before our inspectors arrive. Our ministry has published on its website the 2012/2013 sector plans, which outline the ministry’s enforcement strategy for workplace health and safety.
These plans are a core component of Safe At Work Ontario, and are developed annually to describe what inspectors look for during workplace inspections. We have posted five sector plans – one for each of the ministry’s occupational health and safety programs: Construction, Industrial, Mining, Health Care and Specialized Professional Services. They detail sector-specific hazards, major compliance issues and blitz activities planned for the year.
These plans are developed by reviewing and analyzing injury and illness data, seeking input from our partners – the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, the health and safety associations, and our other stakeholders.
I encourage you to review the relevant sector plans with your Joint Health and Safety Committee, or health and safety representative, to understand some of the common compliance issues that are identified in workplaces like yours.
Sector plans are just one of the many resources that our ministry provides to increase transparency in our enforcement efforts and help you and other workplace parties comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The sector plans are available at: www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/sectorplans/index.php
Also, if your workplace needs compliance help or training on the hazards outlined in the sector plans, you can call us toll-free at 1-877-202-0008, or contact one of the Health and Safety Associations.
|New and Young Worker||Health Care Sector
Industrial Sector (e.g. farming, service, logging sectors)
|May – August 2012|
|Struck by Objects
(hazards associated with traffic control during roadwork)
|Construction Sector||June 2012|
|Tower Cranes / Mobile Cranes
|Construction Sector||July – August 2012|
|Pits and Quarries, Sand and Gravel Pits
(hazards associated with the haulage process)
|Mining Sector||July 2012|
|Supervisory Engagement in Construction
(supervisory responsibilities / training and requirements under Section 14 Reg. 213/91)
|Construction Sector||September – October 2012|
(machine guarding, MSD, workplace violence)
|Industrial Sector||October – November 2012|
|Infection Prevention and Control||Health Care Sector||October – November 2012|
(hazards associated with ore pass and loading pocket systems)
|Mining Sector||November – December 2012|
|Mining Sector||January – February 2013|
|Slips, Trips and Falls
(ladder safety and fall protection hazards)
|February – March 2013|
|Workplace Violence||Health Care Sector||February – March 2013|
With summer gearing up, students are leaving classes and entering the workplace. For many, it will be their first jobs. Whether you are an employer, a supervisor or a parent, remember: young workers often can’t recognize health and safety hazards. In fact, new and young workers in Ontario are four times more likely to be injured during the first month of employment than at any other time.
The Ministry of Labour has launched its fifth new and young worker blitz, running May to August 2012.
New and young workers are often keen to learn, and can bring new ideas and renewed energy to the workplace. But they often hesitate to ask questions.
The enforcement will focus on two groups of workers:
New and young workers include those who are new to a particular job or job site who have come from another country, as well as young (under age 25) people and persons who have never worked before.
“Everyone should share the responsibility to make sure new and young workers are safe on the job,” said Minister of Labour Linda Jeffrey. “We want co-workers to be leaders and look out for these new workers. And with this blitz, we’ll also make sure that employers are properly training and supervising our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers.”Ministry of Labour Health and Safety inspectors check that new and young workers:
Employers are encouraged to develop an effective training program to orient new and young workers into the workplace. The orientation program should include information about safe work policies, measures and procedures specific to the workplace, and the work the worker will perform. To ensure the effectiveness of the orientation program, employers are also encouraged to review their orientation program in anticipation of new workers (particular during late spring, a common time of year for young people to enter the workforce).
Employers, supervisors and trainers should emphasize the need for new and young workers to communicate any concerns or questions they may have about workplace hazards. Supervisors, or others who will be involved in training new workers, are encouraged to familiarize themselves with some of the unique health and safety concerns faced by new and young workers.
“It is important that all workers – especially young workers – understand they have the right, without fear of reprisal, to refuse work they feel is unsafe,” said George Gritziotis, Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer.
Inspectors will focus on workplaces where many new and young workers are employed. These include service sector workplaces such as restaurant, retail, tourism, wholesalers, vehicle sales, logging transportation, municipal parks and recreation, arenas, landscaping, farming operations, construction, mining and health care.
The ministry has many resources for new and young workers, employers, supervisors and other workplace parties at the websites listed below.
New and Young Worker Resources
Protecting Health Care Workers
Ontario is working to improve the safety of workers at road work sites and construction sites with a targeted, month-long blitz.
In June 2012, Ministry of Labour inspectors will visit road construction projects across Ontario – including road work – in the ministry’s 41st inspection blitz since 2008.
They will check for hazards that could result in injury or death. The main hazard to workers is being struck by a moving vehicle where the operator’s view is limited or obstructed.
Factors that will be addressed include:
No specific individual employers will be the focus of this blitz. Instead, inspectors will visit road construction projects and projects within public roadways, as well as focusing on the hazards of large equipment.
Inspectors will check if a written traffic protection plan and competent signallers are on site, and if high-visibility clothing is worn by workers who may be endangered by vehicular traffic.
Inspectors will focus on:
The inspections will be held to:
Between 2007 and 2011, seven critical injuries involving a tower or mobile crane at construction sites were reported to the Ontario Ministry of Labour.
From July 1 to August 31, 2012, ministry inspectors will visit construction projects across the GTA to check for hoisting hazards involving tower cranes and mobile cranes.
They will focus on:
This is the ministry’s third blitz focusing on tower cranes, and the first to focus on mobile crane safety.
Since 2000, 10 worker fatalities and 61 critical injuries in pits and quarries in Ontario were reported to the Ministry of Labour.
In July, 2012, the ministry will embark on a blitz focused on hazards associated with haulage activities in surface mines. During this campaign, inspectors will focus on such hazards as:
This is the ministry’s second blitz focusing on pits and quarries, and sand and gravel pits.
In February 2012, Ministry of Labour (MOL) inspectors conducted a month–long blitz of hazards involving manual materials handling that can lead to MSDs. Inspectors checked on compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.
MSDs are injuries to the musculoskeletal system, such as muscles, tendons, nerves and spinal discs.
During the blitz, inspectors focused on the manual lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying of materials that can lead to MSDs. They also checked on the handling of clients in health care workplaces.
“As MSDs continue to account for over 40 per cent of lost-time injuries in Ontario, it is important to ensure that we continue to raise awareness around MSDs and to treat them like any other hazard,” said Brian McInnes, the ministry’s provincial ergonomist.
The most common ergonomic–related orders written under the Regulations for Construction Projects were for violations involving: unsafe access/egress to a site above or below ground level; work areas and routes to/from work areas that were not maintained in safe condition; and debris and waste material that were not moved to a disposal area.
The most common ergonomic–related orders under the Regulation for Health Care and Residential Facilities were for violations involving the absence of written measures and procedures on MSD hazards.
The most common ergonomic–related orders under the Regulation for Industrial Establishments were for violations involving unsafe material lifting, carrying and moving; obstructions on floors (interfering with safe movement of materials); and unsafe storage of material
The most common ergonomic-related orders under the Regulations for Mines and Mining Plants were for violations involving unsafe means of access to vehicles, inadequate illumination that is appropriate for the task and unsafe access to equipment for workstations.
When Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant experienced meltdowns and radioactive material release following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, concerns were raised about contamination.
Nearly 10,000 kilometres away – in Ontario – the Ministry of Labour began proactively increasing the frequency of monitoring and analysis of milk and drinking water for the presence of radiation.
Analytical results showed that the public was not at risk from ingesting liquids that would be detrimental to their health. All measurements remained at background levels.
It’s just one of the issues that the ministry’s Radiation Protection Service (RPS) handles.
The Radiation Protection Service (RPS) is administered under the direction of the ministry, and consists of the Radiation Protection Field Service and the Radiation Protection Monitoring Service. It is Ontario’s primary source of expertise on all matters concerning exposure to radiation. The RPS celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011. Its staff are experts in radiation/health physics; the hazards and protective measures required for all types of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation; radio analytical methodology and instrumentation, and quality assurance to ensure measurements are accurate and precise.
RPS’s mandate is to:
The RPMS operates the Ontario government’s only laboratory capable of measuring radioactivity in environmental samples. It establishes, maintains and operates a monitoring network that assess radiation exposure around designated nuclear installations, to provide radiological data, expertise and services to the Ministry of the Environment, Emergency Management Ontario and other agencies. It also provides early warning of any potential emergencies that may affect the public.
The RPMS also provides radio analytical and technical support to other provincial agencies involved in radiation surveillance programs and health studies related to radiation exposure to workers and the public.
Canada and Ontario are working together to protect workers at Ontario’s Bruce, Darlington and Pickering nuclear generating facilities. On July 12, 2011, the federal government’s Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the Ontario Ministry of Labour signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for co-operating on a range of enforcement issues.
The MOU formally establishes the co-operative working relationship of the ministry and CNSC at the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering nuclear generating facilities.
Canada and Ontario will:
We’re making it easier and faster for you to comply online with Ministry of Labour (MOL) notification requirements in construction and mining.
Launched in May, the ONe-Source for Business portal will guide you to the government services, forms and information you need to start, operate and grow your business.
These forms remain on the MOL website:
You’ll find a listing of all forms on the MOL website.
By investing a few minutes to create a ONe-Source account, you can:
Complete and submit the form online without creating an account.
You’ll find information and assistance on the ONe-Source for Business portal.
With Environment Canada forecasting a warmer-than-average summer, the ministry is encouraging workplaces to make every effort to prevent heat stress, which can lead to heat-related illness, disability, and even death. Heat stress occurs during excess exposure to conditions of high temperature and humidity. Oftentimes, with excess physical activity, the body is unable to adjust to these conditions and is unable to cool itself. Heat stress and heat-related illnesses can occur both indoors and outdoors. Common indoor environments include large furnaces such as in smelters, steel plants, bakeries, and anywhere there are hot processes. It also occurs in both large and smaller workplaces. For example, heat stress hazards can often be found in dry cleaners where the processes and equipment create much heat.
Meanwhile, heat stress hazards are often faced by people who work outdoors, including municipal workers, and those working at golf courses, summer camps and amusement parks. These workers are outdoors during the hottest parts of the day.
It is important to take breaks in cool, shaded areas; take extra breaks when necessary. Wear a hat, and keep the skin covered. It's vital to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. People become dehydrated very fast. They may not be aware of it, so it's important they drink to the conditions – and not to thirst – to ensure that they don't become dehydrated.
Heat-related illness is a significant cause of workplace-related illness and death. Every heat-related illness is preventable and employers must take all measures necessary to prevent them in the workplace. For more detailed information on heat stress, consult the ministry's heat stress webpage.
The ministry continues to produce a series of audio podcasts that helps Ontario workers and employers learn about health and safety, and employment standards. These are now available for listening anytime, anywhere. Since the last Safe At Work Ontario TODAY, the ministry has added additional podcasts.
Sudbury, October 2
Ottawa, October 18
Kitchener, October 30
Thunder Bay (Forum North), November 6-7
Niagara Falls, November 20
Markham, November 28
Ambassador Golf Club, Windsor – September 12
All proceeds benefit Threads of Life
Registration [126 Kb]
Training and services for construction, electrical and utilities, aggregates, natural gas, ready-mix concrete and transportation.
Training and services for: hospitals, nursing and retirement homes, residential and community care, universities and colleges, school boards, libraries and museums, municipalities, provincial government and agencies, police, fire and paramedics and First Nations.
Training and services (province-wide): forestry, mining, smelters, refineries, paper, printing and converting.
Training and services for agriculture, manufacturing and service sectors.
Toll-free: 1-877-494-9777 | www.wsps.ca
OHCOW provides comprehensive occupational health services to workers concerned about work-related health conditions and to workers, unions and employers who need support to prevent these health conditions from developing.
As Ontario’s designated health and safety training centre, the WHSC provides training for workers, their representatives and employers from every sector and region of the province.
Many regulations made under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act require compliance with standards published by CSA Group, a not-for-profit, membership-based association serving business, industry, government and consumers in Canada and the global marketplace. Thanks to a pilot project funded in part by the Ontario government, you can read many of the relevant CSA standards before you buy. Registration to view the standards is required; however, you are under no obligation to purchase anything. CSA standards cited in Ontario’s occupational health and safety regulations are available online for many sectors, including industry, health care, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and construction.
Links to the inspection blitz schedule and sector plans for 2012-13.
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